Robert Parker has put off his visit to Bordeaux to taste the 2002 vintage until an unspecified date in the future, because of the disruption caused by the invasion of Iraq.

The American wine critic says in an open letter written in French and sent to Bordeaux producers and negociants, ‘due to the desires of my family I must put off my visit.’

He says he will come to Bordeaux ‘later this year when the world is calmer.’ He does not say whether that will be before the key Vinexpo wine fair in June, at which a huge amount of ‘En Primeur’ Bordeaux is sold – although it is unlikely shockwaves caused by the American-led invasion will have calmed by then.

Saying he is ‘a loyal friend to France and to its wine producers,’ he adds that he is furious, and ‘absolutely against my compatriots… who speak of boycotts of French products.’

Many in the wine industry reckon the absence of a Parker score will adversely affect Bordeaux producers. ‘Many depend on him for pricing,’ one wine professional told decanter.com. ‘They really won’t know what to do.’

Parker is considered to favour wines from the right bank of Bordeaux, and as that area suffered during 2002, with extensive millerandage and rain during harvest, there is more reason to worry that the lack of a score in his journal The Wine Advocate will make it difficult to sell the wine.

The critic’s influence is well known. In 2002 the price of Chateau Calon-Segur 2000 increased by as much as 50% after Parker said it was the greatest since 1982. He had not tasted it the previous year and – unscored by him – it had languished on the shelves.

Fiona Morrison, co-owner of Chateau Le Pin in Pomerol said, ‘It will have no effect. It is not a huge en primeur this year. Hopefully Parker not coming will slow people down a bit and make them realise April is far too early to taste anyway.’

Herve Berland of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild said he thought it was a pity because Parker ‘is one of the world’s best tasters.’

He added it was impossible to tell if it would have commercial implications as ‘we have never been in this position before.’

Olivier Bernard of Domaine de Chevalier said – referring to ‘some vins de garage, some left bank but mostly right bank properties’ – ‘It is not good for some chateaux who expect a good score in order to put a high price on their wines.’

A spokesman for the Union des Grands Crus, which represents 119 of the most prominent chateaux in Bordeaux, said he was unable to comment.

Written by Adam Lechmere